Rosslyn Babes reunion is on - and here’s some detail!

The Rosslyn Babes pictured at the Sunderland Empire in 1979.
The Rosslyn Babes pictured at the Sunderland Empire in 1979.
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It’s on! The Rosslyn Babes latest reunion has been announced.

And it’s all set to to be held in Sunderland on Saturday, December 8, running from 7pm to 11pm.

EMPIRE PANTO DANCERS FEBRUARY 1982 OLD NEG NUMBER 39491 ROSSLYN Babes ''The girls are students of Miss Mary Harbord.  The Babes have been performing at the Sunderland Empire production of Cinderella.  The star of the show was Don Estelle, tiny star of "It Ain't Half Hot Mum".''see Tuesday February 9 1982

EMPIRE PANTO DANCERS FEBRUARY 1982 OLD NEG NUMBER 39491 ROSSLYN Babes ''The girls are students of Miss Mary Harbord. The Babes have been performing at the Sunderland Empire production of Cinderella. The star of the show was Don Estelle, tiny star of "It Ain't Half Hot Mum".''see Tuesday February 9 1982

The high-kicking Rosslyn Babes had been a big part of the Wearside entertainment scene – right through from the late 1940s, all through the 1960s and 1970s and well into the 1980s.

They were formed by Sunderland-born Mary Harbord of Rosslyn Street and former members will be getting back together to reminisce on the good old days.

As always, thanks must go to Richard Geere for sharing the latest information on the ladies.

Richard was the Babes’ accompanist and arranger from 1974 to 1980 and now performs at Disneyland’s “Royal Theatre”.

Their work was done out of a passion for dancing, teaching and having children experience the joy of performing - at the highest level

Richard Geere

His aunt was Mary Harbord and his mum Norah was a member of the Rosslyn Babes.

Richard told us: “Auntie Mary successfully produced juvenile dancers for pantomimes all over England. Considering that theatres traditionally use local dancing schools, it makes this accomplishment all the more impressive!

“Along with her sister, Norah (my mother), these two ladies dealt with agents, directors/choreographers/music directors, contracts, licences, transportation, boarding, uniforms and costumes all on their own (and without any internet!) This was long before the rallying cry to involve more women in business.

“Their work was done out of a passion for dancing, teaching and having children experience the joy of performing – at the highest level.

The letter sent by Hughie Green to the Rosslyn Babes.

The letter sent by Hughie Green to the Rosslyn Babes.

“Mary also knew that television was replacing theatrical variety shows, and was successfully transitioning into that medium. As I’m sure you’re aware, the Babes also made a couple of appearances on ‘Opportunity Knocks’.”

Mary even received a personal letter from legendary host Hughie Green, saying how much he enjoyed them.

Richard shared its details with us and it said: “I am writing to tell you how much I, personally, enjoyed your performance on our fourth Opportunity Knocks programme, and to thank you for your contribution to the show.

“It is a pity that not everyone can be a winner but, as you know, in competitions, that is the way it goes.”

The letter, and other items of Rosslyn Babes memorabilia, have been shared with the Sunderland Echo by Richard.

He said: “have also included a letter from former head of children’s programming at Tyne Tees Television, inviting two of the Babes for a gala TV performance.

“A third attachment is a licence granted by the Sunderland Education Department, allowing a Babe to be absent from school (to perform in Crewe).”

Richard contacted us after our recent article highlighted five of the Rosslyn Babes from Sunderland who were about to make their television debuts in August 1971.

They were Sheila Wyness, 12, Hazel Wilson, 12, Beverley Pattinson, 10, Janet Lovell, 13, and Susan Smith, 11, and they were about to do a three-minute song-and-dance routine on Junior Show Time.

It prompted us to take another look at some of the Babes other big appearances.

Their first professional appearance was in Bernard Delfont’s production of Dick Whittington at the Lewisham Hippodrome in 1944. Appearances at theatres in London, Stockport, Barnsley, Harrogate, Margate, Maidstone, Keighley followed as well as at venues in Sunderland, Newcastle and Gateshead.

In 1957, they featured in Hop O My Thumb, at the Palace Theatre, Newcastle. And that same year, they were in Cinderella at the Sunderland Empire Theatre.

In 1967, the Babes were starring in a television show. They came second in the Hughie Green TV programme Opportunity Knocks with a performance which consisted of a routine filled with high-kicks.

In 1980, the Rosslyn Babes had two troupes which were both made up of teams of 12. By 1982, the Babes were performing at the Sunderland Empire production of Cinderella.

Although the Babes eventually folded in the late 1980s, the memories live on.

The reunion is by invitation only and former members can find out more about it, including the venue, by calling 07920 836123 or emailing RosslynBabes@gmail.com.